Bishop Lahham: “Pope may visit Jordan between March and April 2014”
JORDAN – On 30 September 2013, the Italian news agency SIR announced that the Latin Patriarchal Vicar in Jordan has “great hope” for a Pope’s visit to Jordan. Bishop Maroun Laham, confirmed the rumor.
” Of course,” Bishop Lahham confirms that excerpts from his interview with the Italian news agency SIR may be published in the Latin Patriarchate website, about the Holy Father’s possible visit to Jordan. “We bishops met recently in the Vatican.” There is nothing official but the Pope may come between March and April for the 50th anniversary of the meeting between Ecumenical Patriarch Athenagoras I and Pope Paul VI. Here, all the Muslims admire Pope Francis, he was invited by the most important authorities. This Pope is unique and fantastic. He would like to come. Chances are good. And if he asks to go to the Zaatari refugee camp, amid Syrian refugees, we will take him there
The Zaatari camp is located on the northern border of the Hashemite Kingdom. It is the second largest refugee camp in the world. Its construction began in July 2012 with a hundred Syrian families. Today, it accommodates 130,000 people. 2,000 new residents settled there every day. It has hospitals, 3,000 shops. It will also have schools, but only 1 in 4 children attend. Every day, half a million loaves of bread and 4.2 million liters of water are distributed. Every day, 13 children are born in the camp. Nearby, a new camp will be built. Azraq camp will accommodate 130,000 people.
The Pope is known for his closeness and concern for migrants and refugees as demonstrated by his visits to Lampedusa on July 8 and Astalli Refugee Center in Rome on September 10. Pope Francis blasted the “indifference” of the world to the plight of migrants in their quest for a better life. “The culture of comfort, which makes us think only of ourselves, makes us insensitive to the cries of other people, (…) which results in indifference to others; (…)it even leads to the globalization of indifference.” The Pope called for “concrete change of attitudes” and moved to conclude that ” we have lost the sense of fraternal responsibility.”
For the record, King Abdullah II of Jordan was received by the Pope in the Vatican on August 29. The Hashemite King expressed his concerns about the worsening crisis in Syria, and in particular, the new influx of refugees in the country. One million already live in Jordanian territory.
On the other hand, although Bishop Laham told us that only Jordan has been mentioned, we recall that Pope Francis in a press conference on the flight back to Rome while returning from the World Youth Days in Rio on July 28-29 touched on the idea of a trip to Jerusalem. This thought is in conjunction of a possible meeting with the Patriarch of Constantinople Bartholomew I. The Pope said, “we are working on it, but we do not know if it will happen or not.” Just after his election in March, the Latin Patriarch of Jerusalem, Fouad Twal invited the Pope to visit the Holy Land. The Pope has visited in 1973, a few hours before the start of the Yom Kippur War.